News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets


News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets
News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

The composer Beverly Glenn-Copeland weaves his way toward the stage, so slight and unassuming that he is barely noticed by the hipsters thronging the bar. Dressed in a uniform of pressed chinos, neat tie, and a mile-wide smile, he looks out over the audience and says, “Wow!” under his breath, as if he can’t quite believe all the fuss is for him. He seems more like an excited kid than a man in his mid-seventies. His band, who are all 40-odd years his junior, begin layering hypnotic, looping melodies. Glenn-Copeland lifts his arms toward the rapt crowd and sings “Ever New,” his ode to blooming flowers and regeneration, in a voice like summer rain itself.

Versions of this scene, from the 2019 Posy Dixon documentary Keyboard Fantasies, were meant to play out across the United States this year. After his back catalog, spanning nearly a half-century, was discovered by a Japanese aficionado a few years ago, then reissued to great acclaim and wide appeal, this was the year that Glenn-Copeland, who goes by Glenn, was supposed to tour the world and finally turn a profit. Then the pandemic devastated that plan. At the end of May, his daughter Faith started a GoFundMe page to help her parents finance their new home.

Read the rest of this article at: The New Republic

News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

There are certain phrases that are central to the sway the tech industry holds over our collective imagination: they do not simply reflect our experience, they frame how we experience it in the first place. They sweep aside certain parts of the status quo, and leave other parts mysteriously untouched. They implicitly cast you as a stick-in-the-mud if you ask how much revolution someone is capable of when that person represents billions in venture capital investment. Among the most influential of these phrases is undoubtedly “disruption”.

The concept of disruption is a way for companies, the press or simply individuals to think about questions of continuity and discontinuity – what lasts and what doesn’t, what is genuinely new and what is just the next version of something older. There is a lot at stake in how we think about these issues. Are the changes the tech industry brings about, or claims to bring about, fundamental transformations of how capitalism functions, or are they an extension of how it has always functioned? The answers to such questions will determine what regulatory oversight we believe is necessary or desirable, what role we think the government or unions should play in a new industry such as tech, and even how the industry and its titans ought to be discussed.

When we speak of disruption, we are usually thinking about the perils of continuity; we express the sense that continuity works fine until it doesn’t. To some extent, this sense that things staying the same for too long is dangerous and makes us risk falling behind, is characteristic of modernity – not in the sense of a specific time period so much as the condition of being modern, living in a modern age. As the poet Charles Baudelaire wrote in the 19th century, when the world around him was modernising at a breakneck pace: “The form of a city / changes faster, alas, than a mortal’s heart.” Keep living the way you’re living, and soon enough you’ll find yourself living in the past.

Read the rest of this article at: The Guardian

MARK SARGENT SAW instantly that his situation had changed for the worse. A voluble, white-haired 52-year-old, Sargent is a flat-earth evangelist who lives on Whidbey Island in Washington state and drives a Chrysler with the vanity plate “ITSFLAT.” But he’s well known around the globe, at least among those who don’t believe they are living on one. That’s thanks to YouTube, which was the on-ramp both to his flat-earth ideas and to his subsequent international stardom.

Formerly a tech-support guy and competitive virtual pinball player, Sargent had long been intrigued by conspiracy theories, ranging from UFOs to Bigfoot to Elvis’ immortality. He believed some (Bigfoot) and doubted others (“Is Elvis still alive? Probably not. He died on the toilet with a whole bunch of drugs in his system”). Then, in 2014, he stumbled upon his first flat-earth video on YouTube.

Read the rest of this article at: Wired

News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Veronica Zea is pretty sure that before showing up to work at eBay in the spring of 2017, she used the site only once. She bought a surfing poster. It ended up in her closet.

Although Ms. Zea grew up in Santa Clara, Calif., in the heart of Silicon Valley, she cared little for the dazzlements of technology. In college, she studied criminology. After graduating, and a year spent recovering from knee surgery, she surprised herself by answering a classified ad and ending up at the e-commerce pioneer.

Ms. Zea’s first job at eBay was intelligence operator. In a windowless room at corporate headquarters in San Jose, she watched closed-circuit cameras and helped people who were locked out of their offices. Ms. Zea (pronounced ZAY) was 23, with no special skills, but she worked hard. Soon she was promoted to intelligence analyst, charged with staying ahead of geopolitical and individual threats.

Her division, Global Security and Resiliency, consisted of dozens of people, including retired police captains and former security consultants. But it was surprisingly intimate. “We’re a family,” James Baugh, the boss, and Stephanie Popp, her immediate supervisor, would say to the analysts. “We’re Mom and Dad.”

True, Dad could be kind of scary. Mr. Baugh was a stocky, middle-aged guy with thinning hair who loved to talk and did not like to be questioned. He would often say he used to work for the C.I.A. Sometimes he said his wife was working for the C.I.A. right now. Once, he found a knife on a barbecue grill on campus. A deranged person could have used it to hurt someone, he told the analysts, and proceeded to stab a chair. It was never removed, a warning for the timid. (Through his lawyer, Mr. Baugh declined to comment.)

Ms. Zea had never worked in an office. Her only real job before this was on the Grizzly roller coaster at California’s Great America amusement park. So she just accepted things. Like the way eBay was a regular film festival. Mr. Baugh would bring the analysts into a conference room and show the scene from “American Gangster” where Denzel Washington coolly executes a man in front of a crowd to make a point. Or a clip from “The Wolf of Wall Street,” where the feds are investigating shady deeds but none of the perpetrators can recall a thing. Or the bit from “Meet the Fockers” about a retired C.I.A. agent’s “circle of trust.”

That one came up frequently. “No one is supposed to know this,” Mr. Baugh would tell the analysts about some piece of office gossip. “We’ll keep it in the circle of trust.”

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

News 09.28.20 : Today’s Articles of Interest from Around the Internets

Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, born in late 1571 in Milan, is the quintessential uncontrollable artist, the genius to whom normal rules do not apply. “Caravaggio,” the name of the Northern Italian village from which his family came, reads like two words conjoined, chiaroscuro and braggadocio: harsh light mixed with deep dark on the one hand, unrestrained arrogance on the other. Raised in Milan and the village of Caravaggio in a family that some say was on the cusp of minor nobility, Caravaggio was 6 when he lost both his father and grandfather, on the same day, to the plague. He was apprenticed around age 13 to Simone Peterzano, a painter in the region, from whom he must have learned the basics: preparing canvases, mixing paint, perspective, proportion. He apparently developed a facility for still-life painting, and it was probably while studying with Peterzano that he absorbed the pensive atmosphere of Leonardo da Vinci and great Northern Italian painters of the 16th century like Giorgione and Titian.

Caravaggio most likely first went to Rome in 1592, and the reason might have been his involvement in an incident in Milan in which a policeman was wounded (the details, as with so much else in his life, are foggy). It would be far from the last time he had to get out of town. In Rome, it did not take him long to gain both acclaim and notoriety, and by the mid-1590s, his paintings had settled into the styles and subjects we often think of as Caravaggesque: lutenists, cardplayers, a panoply of brooding androgynous youths. Eminent collectors vied for his work, Cardinal Scipione Borghese and Cardinal Francesco Maria del Monte among them. Success went to his head, or perhaps it activated something that had always been there. His language coarsened; his drinking worsened; he got into fights often and was arrested multiple times.

In 1604, Caravaggio was 32. He already had behind him a string of indelible masterpieces, made for Roman patrons and churches: “The Supper at Emmaus,” “The Calling of St. Matthew” in the Contarelli Chapel, “The Conversion of St. Paul” in the Cerasi Chapel, “The Sacrifice of Isaac,” “The Incredulity of St. Thomas.” By that year he had also completed “The Entombment of Christ,” a work of profound grief and astonishing achievement, even by Caravaggio’s already high standards. But in his personal conduct, he remained reckless. “Sometimes he looked for a chance to break his neck or jeopardize the life of another,” writes Giovanni Baglione, a contemporary and one of his first biographers. Giovanni Pietro Bellori, a later 17th-century writer, tells us, “He used to go out on the town with his sword at his side, like a professional swordsman, seeming to do anything but paint.” At lunch in a tavern one day, he ordered eight artichokes, and when they arrived, he asked which were cooked in butter and which in oil. The waiter suggested he smell them to figure out the answer himself. Caravaggio, always quick to suspect insult, sprang up and threw the earthenware plate at the waiter’s face. Then he grabbed a sword; the waiter fled.

As a boy in Lagos, I spent hours poring over his work in books. The effect his paintings have on me, the way they move me but also make me uneasy, cannot be due only to long familiarity. Other favorites from that time, like Jacques-Louis David, now seldom excite me, even as Caravaggio’s mesmerizing power seems only to have increased. And it cannot only be because of his technical excellence. The paintings are often flawed, with problems of composition and foreshortening. My guess is that it has to do with how he put more of himself, more of his feelings, into paintings than anyone else had before him.

The themes in a Caravaggio painting might derive from the Bible or from myth, but it is impossible to forget even for a moment that this is a painting made by a particular person, a person with a specific set of emotions and sympathies. The maker is there in a Caravaggio painting. We sense him calling out to us. His contemporaries may have been interested in the biblical lesson of the doubting Thomas, but we are attracted to Thomas’s uncertainty, which we read, in some way, as the painter’s own.

Read the rest of this article at: The New York Times

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